tv Tavis Smiley PBS November 19, 2014 11:30pm-12:01am EST
good evening from los angeles. i'm tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with peter yarrow, and noel paul stookey, the two survivors of peter, paul and mary. we talk about their book. we're glad you could join us. a conversation about the life and legacy of peter, paul and mary, coming up right now. ♪
♪ and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. ♪ ever since the early '60s, peter, paul and mary have been at the crossroads of political action and they have the authors of peter, paul and mary, and it contains many never-before-seen photos. let's take a look at them singing during the civil rights
movement, you guessed it, "blowin' in the wind." ♪ is blowin' in the wind ♪ the answer is blowin' in the wind ♪ ♪ the answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind ♪ >> i don't care how many times i hear that, how many different ways or versions of it i hear, talking about the trio singing it. it never gets old. it never gets old to my ears. does it get old to you when you're asked to perform it? >> not only does it not get old, just listen to this. we're going to sing a couple lines, and you're going to hear mary's voice in our hearts. >> even though she be absent.
♪ the answer my friend ♪ is blowin' in the wind ♪ the answer is blowin' in the wind ♪ >> you guys kill me, man. every time you come on this show, when i know you're coming on the show, i get tickled like a little kid, obviously, because there are so few guests who come on the show, and they just like kill it every time, on the spot, just jump right into it. i love it. and as i said a moment ago, i don't care how many times i hear it. it never gets old. >> and do you feel that mary, can you -- >> absolutely. >> that music is not gone, and the time and the need for it is greater than ever. and it doesn't have to be these songs. it just has to be songs with a similar intent, and there are many people writing. >> and what you pick show for the kids. i expect to see the march on washington. >> that's why i didn't --
>> the younger generation. >> let me talk about a couple things in terms of context. then i'll get into the content of the book. contex actually, we never had a chance to unpack the character that the village is in your story. >> mm-hm. >> talk to me about the village. >> i think it was bad rap when you saw the movie, "inside llewyn davis," because it painted a very dark picture. what we experienced in the village with mary was a great deal of hopefulness, not only in the equity between people but the vision that the people shared, the hopefulness of the country. this was a radically integrated group from different countries, different races, and getting along just swell, for no money, but all for the vision and the love of it. >> it was not a time at which
people were competitive. were thinking about fame or success. it was, we felt that we were in a crucible of change and excitement. and the privilege of that, on a day-to-day basis was extraordinary. and i must say that that kind of spirit does not characterize the business anymore, you know, but it was, that was the time. >> speaking of that kind of spirit not being at the epicenter of the business today, something else i think is a bit different is what coffeehouses meant then in the village or elsewhere. and what they mean today. when i think coffeehouse today i think coffee bean, i think starbucks, i think people plugging in their ipads or ipads and sitting around all day. they were something different then. you make the point that the coffeehouse was your classroom. >> yes, it was. that was -- >> that was a great phrase.
>> it was the nexus, the connection point. how surprised we were when after playing chess for so many days and months we should find a stage replacing the table. then began entertainment and the outreach and the connection between music and the community. and then unfortunately, alcohol arrived and changed the nature of those clubs and social gathering spots. >> at the end of the night, if you were performing there, they would pass the hat. >> mm-hm. >> and then you divide up the money, and the people who came there would give according to their enthusiasm. see, we're essentially busking in a coffeehouse. and you'd go to china town and have a bite to eat. >> spend everything you earned. >> yeah. and get up at 3:00 in the afternoon and do it again. it was heaven. >> yeah, it was. >> and, you know, out of that
came a bobby dylan, out of that came from tom paxton and judy collins, and arlo guthrie. >> and even some of the comics. bill cosby. >> but they had a platform. and the platform was created not because they wanted to make a book but because they had a message. who did we get this message from? we inherited it from the weavers, from woody. >> from the union movement when we sang. ♪ we shall not ♪ we shall not be moved ♪ just like a tree that's standing by the water ♪ ♪ we shall not be moved >> and we used to sing.
♪ laike when we're together ♪ ♪ we shall not be moved ♪ like when we're together, we shall not be moved ♪ ♪ just like a tree standing by the water ♪ ♪ we shall not be ♪ no more fracking, fracking ♪ we shall not -- >> the times change. now we're talking about fracking, yeah. >> and that's where it goes. and these songs still remain. kids are singing songs of these type, "blowin' in the wind," "where have all the flowers gone." they're not gone, it's just gone from pop music. >> but the message is being rediscovered in hip-hop and even in country, paisley, i have a
responsibility to my own conscience as well as my constituents. >> i want to go back to something that i heard you kind of quietly push out there that the audience might not have heard over the music. you were talking about the comedians of the day, cosby and others. >> woody allen. >> there was another comedian you mentioned. noel stookey. >> yeah. [ laughter ] >> reminiscing about this. we never had this space on stage to talk about this. when we were doing interviews, we would talk about the next cause we were involved in. after mary's passing, two years after that, we started working on telling the story of what we shared. >> yeah. >> and this book is a legacy piece. and john carey kind of nails it. he says this book is not just an
overview of the past. it is an invocation to do this once more. if we stand together this can be done. >> i'm glad you say this. this is from the back of the text. from secretary of state john kerry, they changed the cultural fabric of this nation forever. those are john kerry's words. i knew the back story about the john kerry relationship, but i'm glad you explained that, peter, because i think there might and disconnect for some people knowing the kind of music and the kind of social justice work this group has been involved in for all these years with a government official, the head of the state department writing the foreword to the text. >> we met a lot of people. there was a song -- this is discussed in the book. we, we did a, they don't know about the civil rights movement, there we were later on in the
anti-apartheid movement, and we sang a song that was written for the occasion of a meeting with bishop tutu. and when we met nelson mandela, he said he heard that song. so there's something, the context of what we were experiencing. and people say, what kept you together? well, you look at the results of each of these things, for instance, right here in l.a., we did something called survival sunday to stop these nukes being put on the san andreas fault. and if you read robert mcnamara's book about the response to the march on washington which we performed in 1969 for half a million people. all of a sudden you say, well,
of course they went. they had all this encouragement. it was evidenced that we were going forward. we go from the time when in the civil rights movement when we marched with martin luther king, we, if you were a person of color, you couldn't use, in our nation's capital, a public bathroom unless it said "for colored only", and there was a lynching every three days, now, look what's happened. the racism in this country profound and horrific for young black men. but what progress we made. i was just being asked that, you know. well, did you do anything? did we do anything? not just we, all the people involved. it was amazing. >> you know, even in your book, "death of a king", where you talk about the fact that budget is a moral consideration. >> mm-hm. >> where king talked about it. and that the bombs that were
dropping in vietnam were dropping in the ghetto. >> it was precient. and what was the music of occupy. you have to get out there and sing. >> please, go ahead. ♪ our cities crumble from a bomb ♪ ♪ dropped on a foreign land ♪ when politicians stand and watch ♪ ♪ as the flames of hate are fanned ♪ ♪ no one is too young to help ♪ no effort too small
>> 1972? ♪ we all must heed the call ♪ if you love your country ♪ and for which it stands ♪ vote for gene mccarthy ♪ and bring peace to our land >> talk about gene mccarthy, dollars for bombs, deprive us of the honorable use of our resources so we can be a caring nation. >> i want to go back to this group staying together, you were making a point about what kept you together all these years. i can die and go to heaven now. noel read my book.
knowing, i am honored that you actually took a book of mine, of course it was a book about dr. king. i love you for reading that text. it was a labor of love for me. >> i bet it was. >> let me go back to this notion that peter raises of all the things and the social injustice where they kept you together. so the "new york times," they kind of outed you guys about this book coming out on your 50th anniversary. >> like that was the focus. >> the "times", point was you guys have really been together a little more than 54 years, but the book celebrates 50 years. and what was your reaction to that? >> you know, we, we needed two years to process mary's passing, passing, thank you. we were not about to high bomb this moment and say let's make
money. we took two years and started examining in our hearts what would and way to express this legacy and an invocation to the next generation. we're talking about a 50-year span, not just in music. oh, let's do something to make money because it's this year. this is not that kind of work. and that's vatuous. and it was insulting. >> i think the think that stands out about the text, if we do say so ourselves, it's not just a description of who was where, but how we felt about being there. what went in to getting us there and keeping us there. >> and how we, how we viewed the things we were involved in. you know, rather than just talking about them, how we made decisions about the songs we sang. how we, you know, worked out, we functioned by consensus. >> why would this be important? why would it be important to
anybody else not in the music business? >> metaphorically, it's something i need. i see how you work with the people here. i got to tell you folks, that's what makes this show bubble, because there's a beautiful harmony between the people who work here, the cameramen, the makeup, people who welcome you in the door. so this kind of meta foreis is exactly what this is talking about. >> it's to create a little pool of peace. don't think of peace only as end of hostilities between nations. peace is what you create in your life, in this situation. peace is what goes on back stage with the people who are doing makeup and putting the, peace is all that, how do you think that gay marriage, you know, came along? didn't come along because some wise old guys in the back room
smoking cigars said it's time to pass -- no. it happened because people lived it and made those pools of humanity and justice and peace. and that's what we have to keep doing in this fight of whatever else is going on. >> there is so much to love about this. it's a gorgeous coffee table, it's a gorgeous peaiece of workn my coffee table already. but how the choices were made to put some of these photos, the photo selection is amazing. >> she did that. our manager, who is kind of really, really there. and she also represents mary. she's amazing. >> martha. >> she was the curator of the photographs for this. >> the photos are amazing. >> yeah, and we wrote, and mary wrote, by the way, even though she was gone. she was a prolific writer. >> truly a ghostwriter. >> she wrote op eds, poetry, so
we could really include her. but i want to sing a song to you. >> no. can't imagine. ♪ was it caesar chavez ♪ some say dr. king or gandhi ♪ that sent them on their way >> tell them, peter. ♪ no matter who your mentors are, it's plain to see ♪ ♪ that if you've been to jail for justice, you're in good company ♪ ♪ have you been to jail for justice ♪ ♪ i want to shake your hand ♪ just sitting in and writing down ♪ ♪ have you sung a song for freedom ♪ ♪ have you been to jail for justice ♪ ♪ then you're a friend of mine ♪ hey, you law-abiding
citizens ♪ ♪ come listen to this song ♪ laws were made by people ♪ but people can be wrong ♪ once unions were against the wall ♪ ♪ but slavery was fine ♪ women were denied the vote ♪ while the children worked the mine ♪ ♪ the more you study history ♪ the less you can deny it ♪ a rotten law stays on the books ♪ ♪ till folks with guts defy it ♪ have you ever been to jail for justice ♪ ♪ and songs were sung for freedom ♪ ♪ have you been to jail ♪ have you been to jail ♪ well, the law's supposed to serve us ♪ ♪ but so is the police ♪ but when the system fails ♪ it's time for us to speak with
our piece ♪ ♪ we must be ever vigilant for justice to prevail ♪ ♪ so give courage to your conviction ♪ ♪ let them haul you off to jail ♪ ♪ have you been to jail for justice ♪ ♪ i want to shake your hand ♪ have you sung a song of freedom ♪ ♪ or marched that picket line ♪ have you been to jail for justice ♪ ♪ have you been to jail for justice ♪ ♪ then you're a friend of mine yeah! >> i'm laughing, because i'm thinking, i've been doing this, what, 20, 25 years, and you guys are the only guys that will come on and do six or seven songs. it's nice to do one or two songs, but this is like a complete set of seven songs in
one conversation. has it been worth it all these years? all the sacrifice and all? >> oh, yeah. well, for me, i have to say i have more of a balance in my life than peter. peter is the flag carrier, man, you are out there operation respect. >> very, very, it's intoxicating, but at this point, you know, being 76, and noels a few months older than i am. i don't feel, the only thing that's going to hold me back, the limitations of my health. because for me, this is heaven. i miean, why would you not do something that is so incredibly rewarding. >> let me ask you that, because today the on way we define reward is in money. >> that's right. that's right. >> that's where, that's the real, the real trouble. let me give you another, another piece. i believe what we're dealing with is the black hole of
empathy in our nation. if we want to reconstruct what we need in order to have a policy in terms of the environment, so that we don't continue to catastrophic climate change, which is already happening, it comes ultimately, from our caring about each other. but if you look at the absence of heart and what is caring about each other? the big l. it's love. >> i'm going to close on that note. i could do this for hours. i just heard another one. the black hole of empathy. i take this transcript and highlight it. there are so many great morsels. i love you both. ain't nothing you can do about it. i just love you. the book is out. peter, paul and mary, 50 years, with a beautiful foreword by our
secretary of state john kerry. the photos will get you alone, wonderful story and beautifully told. you honor me every time you show up. >> you honor us. >> in is tthis is the only plac we can be like this. this is freedom right here. >> you're welcome any time. we'll put you on tomorrow. >> thank you for watching. as always, keep the faith. ♪ for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. hi, i'm tavis smiley. join us next time. we'll see you then.
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight from the pentagon, a conversation about america's national security with chuck hagel, the secretary of defense. >> we won't have the capability, we won't have the long term investments that this institution requires to stay ahead of ever else as we have since world war ii with a technological edge, with the ability to continue to recruit, retain the best people. no institution has anything unless you have people. and it doesn't matter how much sophistication you have and the technology. if you don't have the right people, you don't have much. all this will come together as it is now with these huge steep abrupt cuts at a time the world is becoming more dangerous, not less dangerous and we're being asked to do more. >> rose: chuck hagel